Saturday, January 19, 2013

"the Curing Witch, comonly called, The good Witch"

More quotes from Richard Bernard's 
"Guide to Grand-Jury Men".
[Cornell University Library of Witchcraft Collection]

pp. 7-8 

The sinne of witchcraft, and the diabolicall practice thereof, is omnium scelerum atrocißimum, and in such as haue the knowledge of God, the greatest apostacie from the faith. For they renounce God, and giue themselues by a couenant to the Diuell. Bad Witches many prosecure with all eagernesse; but Magicians, Necromancers, (of whom his late Maiestie giueth a deadly censure in his Dæmonologie) and the Curing Witch, comonly called, The good Witch, all forts can let alone: and yet bee these in many respects worse then the other.

p. 146  (p. 129 in the original)

The good Witches (vn truely so called) may be sundry waies knowne: I. From the quality of the party, one commonly very ignorant of religion, an obseruer of times, of good and bad daies, of good and bad lucke, very superstitious in many things, not induring willingly such as feare God, and such as delight in his Word. They are also fantastically proud, as Simon Magus was, who boasted much of himselfe, as these doe of their gift and power; as those in Spaine, which call themselues Salutadorres.

p. 153  (p. 1 36 in the original)

This Bodinus sheweth by examples three or foure, where of one Healer came to a Bishop, and willed him to trust in him to cure him, and this was in the hearing of Bodinus himselfe, there in the Chamber, and one Doctor Faber, a learned Physician. Thus may these, falsely so named good Witches, be discouered.

pp. 245-246  (pp. 228-229 in the original)

5. The Physician, if vse haue beene made of him. It is very necessary to haue his iudgement in this case, to know whether the disease bee naturall, as hee vpon mature deliberation, and diligent search hath found it? or whether there bee any counterfeiting herein? or if the disease bee not naturall, yet whether Satan may not mixe with it his supernaturall power, beyond the force of the disease? These are for Physicians to iudge: And therefore it is very requisite to haue the aduice of some iudicious Physician herein.

6. The report of a White or good Witch, as the people call him or her. This Witch must be brought before Authority, and it must be demanded of him or her, I. What they haue reported of the suspected partie? 2. Vpon what grounds they haue thus accused the said party? for such an one may know the other to bee a Witch, one of these two waies ....


Ashley Yakeley said...

Looks like the same propaganda techniques to me, deliberately trying to promote the concept of the "good witch" as if it were already in common currency.

If it were in fact the case, he'd simply speak of "witches", and not talk so much about "good witches".

Apuleius Platonicus said...

He is providing direct first hand testimony to the fact that magical healers were "commonly called good Witches". That this is what he plainly saying is true regardless of what he intends propaganda-wise, which in fact we have no direct way of knowing. Mind reading is very difficult as it is, but reading the mind of someone who has been dead for nearly four centuries is a very big stretch indeed.

Ashley Yakeley said...

He has a clear agenda! The whole purpose of the Guide is to prosecute healers and cunning folk. And what better way than refer to them as witches at every turn? He can't be trusted to represent them fairly, nor to represent how they are commonly called.

Note how he describes "good witches" as actually worse than "bad" witches? It's a well-known propaganda technique. The message is, there are witches, and some of them are easy to spot, but the really sneaky ones pretend to be "good" and refer to themselves as healers, cunning men etc. the better to hide their evil.

And here's the clever lie: that of course the common people cannot be entirely ignorant of this, but instead tend to play down the inherent evil of the cunning men by calling them "good witches".

Bernard has a task: he wants to convince a bunch of country men called to jury that their village healer is really an evil witch deserving of death. What better way than to insinuate that most people already know that healers are witches? No-one wants to think themselves ignorant of such common matters, after all.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

The problem with your argument is that Bernard isn't saying that these Witches "pretend to be good", he is saying that they are CALLED good. And that is the bone of contention here.

It is absolutely true that Bernard is an evil scum-bag. And he is typical of the worst kind of British Calvinist, who were incensed at the relative laxity of the Witch Hunt in England, where, even when witches were convicted they were often allowed to live, and even when executed, they were not burned. These are the same scum who were enraged when the Witch Hunts ended.

But there is simply no rational basis for the claim that Bernard is misrepresenting how common people refer to Witches. What is his motivation supposed to be?

Ashley Yakeley said...

He's trying to convince people that healers are witches, by insinuating that it's already something everyone knows.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Ashley, it is clear that you (and Hutton) wish to assign a meaning to these statements that is other than what they plainly mean on the surface. Parsimony demands that some very good reasons be adduced for such a convoluted claim. This demand becomes all the more compelling due to the significant number of different sources who all fit this same pattern. In the absence of such compelling evidence, the simplest explanation must be preferred: and that explanation is that Bernard means exactly what he says.